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Where to Work in Genetics

written by: Jason C. Chavis•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 5/17/2010

Genetics is a discipline filled with a variety of different jobs; they can be as, elaborate as the human genome itself. If you are thinking of a career in genetics here are a few examples to whet your appetite.

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    The field of genetics is one of the fastest-growing in the scientific community. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, jobs in genetics grow by an average of 14 percent each year. There are a variety of different genetics jobs including forensic careers and posts in agricultural biotechnology.

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    Forensic Scientist

    Variations of VNTR allele lengths in 6 individuals 

    A forensic scientist works in both the genetics industry and other fields of science in its relation to the legal system. Generally, a forensic scientist is paramount in identifying information regarding criminal or civil matters that need genetic and biological explanations. A forensic scientist can identify a suspect (who fled a crime scene) from a tiny sample of cells. A person performing this job in genetics must also take into account the broader concepts of methodology with a strong focus on pure facts. Among the overall spectrum of science, forensic scientists specialize in DNA fingerprinting.

    Above Left: Variations of VNTR allele lengths in 6 individuals. (Supplied by Charvosi and PaleWhaleGail at Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License;

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    Genetic Counselor

    A genetic counselor works with the human and hereditary portions of the genetics industry. Trained in both genetics and some psychology, this person works with patients and relatives to explain the effects and ramifications of genetic disorders.

    The overall job of a genetic counselor is to inform people of the likelihood of transmitting a genetic disorder and the probability of developing problems. This includes informing people of options and working on a family planning concept that will help diminish the chances of passing on the disorder to children.

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    Molecular Genetic Clinical Lab Scientist

    DNA Split 

    A molecular genetic clinical lab scientist works within a variety of genetic disciplines. This job focuses heavily on the basic lab research that utilizes gene therapy techniques, DNA sequencing, basic forensic medicine, genetic mapping and research gathered from the Human Genome Project. While comprising a wide swath of knowledge, a molecular genetic clinical lab scientist is a very important part of the genetics industry and handles the basic nuts and bolts of research.

    Above Right: DNA split. (Supplied by U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Project at Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain;

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    Biotechnician with Engineered Rose 

    A biotechnician is a fairly broad-based definition referring to someone who works with genetic engineering of some sort. This is most commonly associated with medical technology or agricultural concerns. The exact definition, as given by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity defines the job as “Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use."

    Due to the diversity of the overall field, many people involved with this form of genetics choose to focus on a specific portion. Potential biotechnicians are generally well versed in disciplines such as molecular biology, biochemistry, chemical engineering and basic information technology.

    Above Left: Biotechnician with rose plant. (Supplied by Scott Bauer of the Agricultural Research Service at Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain;

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    Animal Breeder

    Sheep and cow in South Africa 

    One of the most ancient and basic forms of jobs involving genetics is animal breeding. It has been practiced on a generic level for thousands of years in the process of domesticating animals for human consumption. Some of the more modern forms include specific pet and agricultural breeding as well as experimental research. As part of animal science, the genetics component involves quantitative genetics, population genetics, and statistical analysis.

    Above Right: Cows and sheep in South Africa. (Supplied by Steven Walling and Lollie-Pop at Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License;

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    "How to Become a Genetic Scientist" Department of Justice Scientists

    "Career in Genetic Counseling" National Society of Genetic Counselors

    "Clinical Laboratory Scientists" California Association for Medical Laboratory Training


    "Professional Animal Breeding" JobMonkey

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